Fact List Military

Some of history’s craziest wars

Here is a list of 7 Craziest Wars in History.

01. The Toyota War

The Toyota War

In the 1980s, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi dreamed of making his country into a great power in Africa. He used oil revenues to build a powerful army, funded revolutionaries and terrorists (including the guys behind the horrific civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone), and sent his troops to occupy a large area of the neighboring country of Chad. Now Chad is mostly just barren Saharan desert, but they had no interest in being ruled by the Libyans, so they resisted with a guerrilla war. Even though the Libyans were equipped with powerful weapons up to and including main battle tanks, the Chadians had guts and daring. Loading their soldiers into the backs of Toyota pickup trucks, they used the resulting mobility to inflict crushing defeats on the Libyans. Eventually Gaddafi accepted defeat and withdrew.

Length of war: Less than 1 year

Casualties: 7,500 killed (mostly Libyan), 800 armored vehicles (all Libyan)

02. The Soccer War (aka The Football War)

The Soccer War (aka The Football War)

By 1969, tensions between El Salvador and Honduras had been simmering for years. That year also had what would be the spark for this war: the qualifying matches for the following year’s World Cup. The first qualifying match between the two countries was played in Honduras, and Honduras won — and the game was followed by rioting and violence. The second match was in El Salvador, and El Salvador won — and the match was followed by worse rioting and violence. The third and final match was played in Mexico City, which El Salvador managed to win in overtime. The same day El Salvador went to war with Honduras. The fighting only lasted around four days, and just a few kilometers of land changed hands (El Salvador started strong but was beaten back by Honduras). It was finally ended through international arbitration. Two things remain notable about this war. First, it was the last war with air combat between propeller-driven planes (both sides had former WWII planes from the US, like the F4U Corsair), and also what some call the last cavalry charge in history (though some identify an assault by Afghans and US Special Forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan).

Length of war: Less than 1 week

Casualties: Around 3,000 killed, 2,000 of them Honduran

03. The Paraguayan War

The Paraguayan War

Paraguay is a tiny little country sandwiched between Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, but once it used to be a bit bigger. Unfortunately, in 1864, its president, apparently deciding he was some kind of military genius, decided to expand his territory, knowing full well it would trigger a war. Paraguay was ganged up on by all its neighbors, in a war that was truly apocalyptic for Paraguay. By the time that president finally died and the war ended, Paraguay had lost majority of its population, being reduced to maybe 200,000 people, of which only 28,000 were men. The rest had been killed in the nightmare war. Per capita, it ranks as one of the most devastating wars in history.

Length: Around 6 years

Casualties: Over half a million soldiers and civilians, most of them Paraguayan

04. War of the Oaken Bucket

War of the Oaken Bucket

In the middle ages, Northern Italy was home to a great many city-states like Milan, Florence, Venice and so on. It was a time of great cultural achievements and economic growth via trade, but these cities were constantly at war with one another, and there were many rivalries that lasted centuries. One of these was between the cities of Bologna and Modena. One day in 1325, some soldiers from Modena stole the bucket from a Bolognese city well, sparking the old rivalry into war. Bologna went to war, fighting the Battle of Zappolino, which was not decisive. The war quickly ended. Bologna did not get its bucket back. Modena supposedly still have the damn bucket.

Length of war: Maybe a couple of weeks

Casualties: Around 2,000 killed (both sides combined)

05. 335 Five Year War

The Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Year War

In the mid-1600s, England was in a state of civil war, with the Parliamentary army under Oliver Cromwell fighting it out with the Royalists. Cromwell was a hell of a general, and by 1648 the royalists were kicked out of Cornwall, in southwest England, retreating to the little isle of Scilly. But while their armies were being routed, the Royals still had a fleet, which, based on Scilly, were beating the crap out of the Dutch, who were chummy with the Parliamentarians. The Dutch then declared war on the Royalists. But because those Royalists had lost pretty much all of their English territory, the Dutch declared war on Scilly itself. However before fighting could start, the Royalists had surrendered to Cromwell. But no one ever bothered to formally end the war between Scilly and the Netherlands, something that was mostly forgotten. Eventually, in 1986, Scilly and the Dutch Government jokingly brought the war to an end. Okay, it probably doesn’t really count as a war except in the most technical sense, but if it does then it’s the longest in history.

Length: 335 years

Casualties: zero

06. War of Jenkins’ Ear

War of Jenkins' Ear

In the early 1700s, Britain had won, through war, the right to ship slaves to the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean. But the Spaniards hated the Brits, hated the competition and just generally weren’t interested in cooperating. In 1731, Spanish coast guard forces stopped and boarded a British merchant ship commanded by one Robert Jenkins. Things got tense and the Spanish commander cut his ear off. That might have been the end of it, except that years later, in 1738, some hawks in the British Parliament needed a pretext to go to war with Spain for like the hundredth time. Someone heard about Jenkins and his ear, so after he testified before Parliament (allegedly displaying his gross severed ear), outrage was declared and the war was on. After a bunch of battles, including a Spanish attempt to invade the American colony of Georgia, peace was declared. By the end it had merged with a much wider European war (the War of Austrian Succession). The original causes had kind of faded away so nothing really came of Jenkins’ war.

Length of War: Around 9 years

Casualties: Maybe 30,00 dead, mostly Spanish

07. The Opium Wars

The Opium Wars

This is one of the most disgusting wars ever fought. The British Empire was big and strong, and had grown rich on global trade. But the real honey-pot was China, home to silk, tea, and tons of other stuff that the Brits wanted to sell in Europe. Trouble was, the British didn’t have anything the Chinese wanted, so they demanded payment for exports with hard cash (mostly silver). This was an extremely expensive way to do business, so the British found an alternative: opium. They grew the drug in India and shipped it to China, where a fast-growing army of addicts eagerly puffed up a much as the stuff they could get. The Chinese government was suddenly faced with a severe social crisis as addiction spread like wildfire, and tried to ban all importation of the drug. The Brits, reluctant to lose the fortunes being made, declared war in 1839. The antiquated Chinese forces (mostly naval ships) were no match for the Royal Navy, which romped up and down the coast. The war won, the opium trade was restored. The war led to the founding of Hong Kong as a British colony, along with Shanghai (which were basically villages before the wars). Opium addiction continued to spread and China was crippled as a great power, only regaining its strength around … well, nowadays.

Length of war: 3 years (Second Opium War: 1856-1860)

Casualties: Unknown, but UK hardly lost anyone while the Chinese probably lost tens of thousands, followed by generations of massive opium addiction

 

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